Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you for subscribing to my e-newsletter. This is the time of year that legislators and legislative staff focus on preparations for the upcoming legislative session, and it is widely believed that 2015 will be yet another challenging year for the state. Not only is it a key budget writing year, but last month the Legislature was found to be in contempt by the State Supreme Court for not fulfilling the state’s constitutional obligation to fully fund schools.

McCleary Decision

Sen. Rolfes speaking with Silverdale RotaryA lawsuit was filed in 2007 by the McCleary family and others challenging the state’s funding of public schools. This court case is known as “the McCleary decision.” As one of the lead members on the McCleary task force, I have been involved for years in proposals to not only define what “fully funding” means but to find solutions that will bring the state into compliance. Because the court’s mandate is likely to require somewhere between $1.7 and $5 billion in additional funding for our public schools over the next few years, the potential fiscal ramifications for our state are large – as is the potential for tremendous growth in student success. I recently presented on this subject to Rotary groups in both Silverdale and Bremerton, as well as to our area’s school superintendents, and I am scheduled to give a presentation to the Poulsbo Rotary in December.

You can find a link to my presentation here if you are interested in learning more. I am available through December to talk with groups about the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement

Construction to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Elliott Bay Seawall has altered access along Seattle’s waterfront, including access to Colman Dock.

As part of this work, ferry terminal access on Alaskan Way shifted one block south, from Spring Street to just south of Madison Street. Pedestrian and bicycle access to Colman Dock will be maintained throughout construction. To view a helpful map of the changes, please click here.

If you have questions about the construction or waterfront access, please contact the Seawall Project via email ( or 24-hour hotline (206-618-8584).

Bertha's Last StandAlso, if you happen to be near Milepost 31 — the information center in Pioneer Square located at 211 First Ave. S. in Seattle — check out “Bertha’s Last Stand.” A soapbox derby team made a speedy and compact version of the underground boring machine.

In-State Tuition for Military Families

You may have heard the Legislature last session passed a bill to grant in-state tuition to transitioning active duty military and their spouses without applying the one-year waiting period (SB 5318). But did you know this also applies to children?

I received an email from a constituent in Poulsbo who is in the military, and though he is a Washington state resident and owns a home here, his son was denied in-state tuition on first pass at a community college because the high school transcripts were from California. The issue has been cleared up in the case of this student, but it got me thinking that others may have come across this problem as well.

If you are the spouse or dependent of someone on active duty in Washington, or you are transitioning out of the military and staying in Washington, you are entitled to the immediate benefit of in-state tuition. 

Some college tuitions vary only a little between in-state and out-of-state tuition, while others can more than double! So be sure you are getting the benefits you deserve.

Torch of Leadership

AWSP LogoI am grateful to be the recipient of the 2014 Torch of Leadership award from the Association of Washington School Principles. I introduced a bill this past session (SB 6552) to increase high school graduation requirements from 20 credits to 24 – the minimum typically required for entry level career training and college. A lot of bipartisan work went into this bill, which was a priority for both schools and parent groups, and it passed. Education is one of my main areas of focus as your legislator, and it is an honor to be recognized by the Association of Washington School Principals for the work we’ve done together.

Leaf-to-Branch Cost Benefit

As beautiful as this summer has been, fall brings its own wonderful and welcome changes. Cool mornings, abundant harvests and, of course,Fall Trees crisp and colorful leaves. It is easy to appreciate the trees in the northwest this time of year, but in addition to their beauty and providing food and habitat for the critters and birds, they provide other measurable benefits.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources posted a fun tool on its blog that I thought you might want to try out. It is called the “Tree Benefit Calculator” and it shows you the monetary value different trees provide with regards to air quality, drainage benefits and property value. To see how your trees work for you, please click here.

As always, I look forward to your calls and emails!

Warm Regards,